AIDB president off to a good start
Aug 21, 2013 | 1499 views |  0 comments | 83 83 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although he’s only been in the job for six months, Dr. John Mascia is earning high marks and praise from AIDB’s Board of Trustees. At this week’s quarterly meeting of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind’s trustees, he was given the highest possible scores on 551 out of 600 items — 50 items scored by each of the 12 board members.

Like his predecessor, Terry Graham, Mascia was already an AIDB employee when he was hired for the top job, so he was very familiar with AIDB’s programs and staff since his first day as president.

He joined AIDB in 2005 as director of the E.H. Gentry Facility and Regional Centers and was promoted to vice president of adult programs in 2009, but his experience in the field goes back to 1989 in New York when he joined the Helen Keller National Center. He rose to a senior administrative position before leaving his home state for Alabama.

One board member pointed out that Mascia was the first AIDB president in memory who could converse with deaf staff in students with sign language, and is the first to attend conferences for the American Council of the Blind and National Federation for the Blind. He lauded Mascia’s commitment to people with disabilities.

Mascia recently made his first welcoming address to AIDB’s staff at the opening convocation of the new school year.

In his presentation, Mascia shared a video clip of one of his heroes, a deaf-blind teacher he met while working in New York. Robert Smithdas is the second deaf-blind person to earn a college degree, after Helen Keller, and the first to earn a postgraduate degree.

The clip featured an interview of Smithdas by Barbara Walters, who called him the most memorable and the most inspiring person she has interviewed. Mascia is seen briefly in the video serving as an interpreter.

Mascia said AIDB’s mission is to provide comprehensive education and service programs of superior quality for children and adults who are deaf, blind, deaf-blind or with multiple disabilities, and their families, not just in Talladega but statewide.

He told the staff at convocation that he is committed to protecting AIDB’s campus programs, but noted that enrollment in some of the campus programs is stagnant or showing a downward trend. At the same time, the number of individuals being served by AIDB is increasing through its Regional Center programs.

In New York, Mascia was responsible for the supervision of regional representatives, national training programs, community placement services and 45 affiliate programs. That is experience that should serve him well in his current role.

We appreciate Mascia’s commitment to AIDB’s campus programs, which are located in Talladega. The institute is the largest employer in the city, and the second-largest employer in the county — strong programs here are very important to the area’s economy.

At the same time, AIDB’s role in reaching out to serve others through its regional centers is critical for a statewide program of its type.

“We cannot be afraid to change,” he said at convocation. “In fact, we must continue to grow and change our program to meet the needs of the people we serve.”

AIDB has to be able to serve people from all corners, and in all corners of the state. With at least one person from each congressional district serving on the board, their high marks for Mascia seem to indicate AIDB is fulfilling that mission.

That’s good news for him, for the institute, for our area, and most of all for the clients AIDB serves.